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Article 16: Merit Promotion Procedures

Section 1

The Employer's policy is to provide a fair and systematic approach for the identification, evaluation, and competitive selection of employees for promotion to bargaining unit positions on the basis of merit principles. Actions taken under this Article shall be made without regard to race, color, sex, national origin, marital status, age, religion, sexual orientation, labor organization affiliation or non-affiliation, or non-disqualifying disability and shall be based solely on job-related criteria.

The purpose of this Article is to insure selection of the most qualified candidates for vacant positions. The procedures in this Article do not apply to the Agency's hiring of new employees except where required by law, rule, or regulation; rather the Article deals primarily with internal merit employment. Nevertheless, Article 17 (Reassignments), provides procedures the Employer will follow to enable current employees to be considered for vacant positions.

Under the terms of this Article, the Employer is not required to fill a vacant position with a current employee but this Article does provide for promotions to be made fairly, and for promotion practices that will support the Agency's efforts to select the best qualified persons in any given instance.

The Employer may choose the method of filling a vacant position so long as civil merit procedures and the terms of this Agreement are followed. In many cases, current employees may fill vacant positions. They are frequently among the best qualified. They are familiar with the work, and the selecting official often knows their abilities.

Section 2

The provisions of this Article apply only to competitive merit promotions to bargaining unit positions that are also:

1. promotions to positions that have higher promotion potential;

2. temporary promotions or details to higher graded positions for more than one hundred twenty (120) days;

3. reassignments, details, or demotions or changes to lower grade, to positions that have known higher promotion potential except as permitted by reduction-in-force regulations;

4. transfers-in of federal employees to positions with higher promotion potential than the ones currently occupied; or

5. reinstatement of former career or career conditional employees to permanent or temporary positions with higher potential than the positions previously held.

Section 3

The provisions of this Article do not apply to any other competitive merit promotions, including with respect to the following categories:

1. career ladder promotions;

2. promotions resulting from an employee's position that has been reclassified at a higher grade because of an accretion of duties, as long as the duties are included into the higher level position and there are no other employees to whom the higher level duties could be assigned;

3. temporary promotions made permanent without further competition if the temporary promotions were originally made under a competitive merit posting that provided for such promotion;

4. temporary promotions or details to higher graded positions for 120 days or less;

5. promotions that result from application of new classification standards or the correction of a classification action;

6. interns;

7. summer employees; and

8. student temporary employees.

Section 4

When the area of consideration for competitive merit promotions is not limited to Agency employees, bargaining unit employees will be simultaneously considered with other applicants. Eligible bargaining unit employees seeking reassignment to a vacant posted position also may be considered for the vacancy pursuant to Article 17 (Reassignments).

Section 5

Prior to filling a position through an action described in Section 2 and excluding actions described in Section 3 of this Article, announcements of competitive merit promotions will be announced in SEC Today with a brief description and hyperlink to the full job announcement on USAJOBS with:

1. the announcement number;

2. the title, occupational series, grade, organization and location of the position;

3. career ladder;

4. area of consideration;

5. a brief description of the duties and responsibilities of the position and an indication where additional information may be obtained;

6. whether the position is a full or part time position;

7. whether one or multiple positions are available;

8. required minimum qualifications, including selective placement factors;

9. quality ranking factors;

10. a list of any evaluative methods which may be used by the rating panel or official, such as interviews and tests;

11. application procedures and where to submit applications;

12. opening and closing dates for acceptance of applications;

13. statement of equal employment opportunity; and

14. whether moving expenses will be paid.

Amended announcements will indicate that they have been modified.

Section 6

Competitive merit promotion announcements will be open for a minimum of ten business days. The agency may limit the number of applications it will consider for any job announcement (e.g. first 100 applications submitted). Limitation(s) on the number of applicants will be noted on the job announcement. When a job announcement limits the number of applicants, five business days prior to the date the job announcement is scheduled to post on USAJOBS, the SEC will notify employees of the upcoming announcement.

Section 7

The area of consideration is the area in which an active search of candidates is made. The minimum area of consideration is that area in which it can be reasonably expected that a sufficient number of qualified employees will be located. When bargaining unit positions are filled under the provisions of this Article, the minimum area of consideration is Agency-wide, unless it is determined that a sufficient number of qualified applicants will be found within a more limited area of consideration.

Section 8

An employee interested in a competitive merit promotion must submit all necessary application materials identified in the competitive merit promotion announcement by the specified closing date.

Applications may be withdrawn at any time. If an employee wishes to withdraw his/her application for a competitive merit promotion, he/she must submit a written withdrawal to the same place he/she submitted his/her application.

Section 9

A. Merit promotion certificate(s) will be issued with the names of well qualified candidates listed in alphabetical order. Well qualified candidates will be determined by using a cut-off score of 90. The certificate will include the names and application materials of the referred applicants. If the competitive merit promotion position was posted at more than one grade, a separate list (developed in accordance with the above) may be issued for each grade.

B. Upon receiving a certificate and/or a list of candidates, the selecting official will have the option to interview all candidates or further narrow the applicant pool. If the Employer chooses to further narrow the applicant pool, the Employer may appoint a résumé screening panel comprised of at least two members to evaluate the qualifications of the applicants for the competitive merit promotion. All résumé screening panel members will be of the same or higher grade as the full performance level of the position to be filled through the competitive merit promotion. The selecting official will not be a member of the résumé screening panel.

C. The résumé screening panel will evaluate eligible applicants against the quality ranking criteria established for the position. The résumé screening panel may request guidance from OHR in carrying out its responsibilities.

D. The résumé screening panel will provide a fair and objective assessment of each applicant's qualifications for the position. The résumé screening panel’s evaluations will be based on the evaluation criteria established by the Employer for the competitive merit promotion and the application materials provided by the applicants. The résumé screening panel will apply the evaluation criteria to each applicant in as uniform and consistent a manner as possible.

E. The Employer will develop a rating system to be used by the résumé screening panel in the evaluation of applicants, which shall be based on the applicant's ability to perform in the posted position. To the maximum extent possible, the rating system will be described in terms of observable, objective and measurable criteria.

F. After a résumé screening panel provides its recommendation to the selecting official, he/she may establish an interview panel to interview applicants on the certificate. If multiple rounds of interviews are conducted, the selecting official will not participate until the final round of interviews. If there is more than one referral list, the selecting official may direct the interview panel to interview applicants on one or more referral lists. The interview panel may then make a written recommendation of certain applicants to the selecting official. If the interview panel makes a written recommendation of certain applicants, and the selection official wants to conduct additional interviews, he/she will interview all of those applicants. If the selecting official interviews any applicant who was not recommended by the interview panel, the selecting official should interview all applicants.

Section 10

An employee selected for a competitive merit promotion will be promoted and paid at the salary of the higher grade at the beginning of the first full pay period following the date of the selection on the certificate.

Section 11

Each applicant who has not been selected for the competitive merit promotion will be notified, normally within 10 calendar days, of the selection. However, in no event will the employee be formally notified later than twenty (20) calendar days after the date of the selection on the certificate.
Upon request, each applicant will be provided the following information within twenty (20) calendar days regarding his or her application for a competitive merit promotion under this Article:

1. Whether the employee met the required minimum qualifications;

2. Whether the employee was in the group from which the selection was made; and

3. The name of the person selected for the position.

If requested, an applicant on the certificate who is not selected for the competitive merit promotion will be provided with an explanation within seven calendar days why he/she was not selected.

The Employer will maintain the file on each promotion action covered by this Article for two years. Promotion files will be kept in accordance with regulatory requirements.

Section 12

An employee's leave balances, request to use leave, or use of any type of approved leave may not be considered by rating panels, screening panels or selecting officials as a basis for selection or non-selection. However, this does not preclude the consideration of the employee's dependability if the employee has been on a leave restriction within the preceding 12 months.

The fact that an employee has not previously applied for or accepted a prior competitive merit promotion may not be considered by rating panels, screening panels or selecting officials in the evaluation of candidates or as a basis for selection or non-selection.

Section 13

If an employee was improperly omitted from a certificate, he/she will receive priority consideration for the next appropriate merit promotion vacancy for which he/she is qualified. An appropriate merit promotion vacancy is one in the same geographical location with the same title, occupational series, grade, and career ladder that has the same promotion opportunities as the position for which the employee received improper consideration.

Priority consideration means that the employee's application will be submitted to the selecting official before the selecting official reviews the applications of any other qualified applicants. An employee is entitled to only one priority consideration under this Section.

If two or more employees are entitled to priority consideration for the same merit promotion, their names will be submitted to the selecting official in alphabetical order, accompanied by their application materials.

If a priority consideration applicant is not selected, the Employer will prepare a written statement of the reasons why. Upon request, a copy of this statement will be provided to the employee within twenty (20) calendar days.

Section 14

On or before November 1 of each year, the Employer will provide the Chapter President with a report for the preceding fiscal year of the number of bargaining unit positions posted and the number of these positions filled by bargaining unit employees. This information will be listed by grades, series, and titles, and by Division/Office/Regional Office.